50 Best Restaurants: A Comfortable, Relaxing Pace at Il Casale

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

During a particularly rushed meal at a particularly crowded restaurant I tested for our 50 Best Restaurants package, a well-known chef — who, for the purposes of this blog post, will remain nameless — descended upon the dining room, surveying the servers as they unloaded food onto tables. “Hurry up — the food is dying!” the chef exclaimed rather loudly. It was at that point that I felt my evening begin to wither, too.

My experience at Il Casale, however, was precisely the opposite. Though I didn’t happen to spot chef Dante de Magistris during my visit, the entire meal felt comfortable and relaxed — likely due to a combination of the rustic-upscale atmosphere (exposed brick, dimly lit chandeliers), the lineup of to-die-for pastas, and my kind waiter, who spoke softly but carried some excellent recommendations (e.g., the delicate branzino drizzled with truffle oil). I left the restaurant restored in both body and spirit.

There are many places in the area that serve superlative food. The challenge is finding the spots that make you feel good about eating there, too. (50 Leonard St., Belmont, 617-209-4942, ilcasalebelmont.com.)

We’re blogging about the 50 Best Restaurants on Chowder all month long at bostonmagazine.com/50best. Join the conversation on Twitter (#50Best) with @ChowderBoston.